Kerry Washington, 2017 Sundance

Courtesy Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Refinery29

Kerry Washington has a long history of portraying strong complex women characters on screen.

"I look for work that makes us feel less alone not by forcing us to be part of one kind of hero's journey, but realizing that hero's come in many shapes and sizes and hues and genders and gender fluidities," the actress recently shared at The Women of Sundance Brunch in Park City. 

Although it common now for there to be African American leads within television, Kerry explained that when she was first cast as the now iconic Olivia Pope in Scandal, ABC was celebrated for taking a risk.

"Black people consume content more than anybody else in this country, and women are 51 percent of the population, and so, why do we allow the myth of risk to exist?" she asks. "When [Scandal] first aired, you started to see other studios use the language of taking a 'risk' in casting African American leads. And thankfully with the success of the show, I really have been empowered financially, logistically and professionally by a company that sees the value in story telling by 'other,' and for that I am grateful." 

But for Kerry, in becoming a producer, she's been able to create opportunity for those deserving of a seat at the table. 

Kerry Washington

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

"I love acting and I love my day job, I love it so very much, but becoming a producer, producing Confirmation and starting my own production company, I get to hire other women, people of color and people of the LGBTQ community," she explains. "I want to make sure that people society has labeled as 'other' have a chance to be leaders, and to make the table look like what the real world looks like."

But Kerry knows it takes a lot to effect change. "It requires courage on all of our parts because sometimes the people who are in charge of the rooms, they want us to feel lucky to be in the room, and we are because we are all really blessed to be doing what we love to do and to be able to do it but that doesn't mean that because I am lucky and grateful to be in the room that I don't get to bring other people with me," she says.

"I think a big part of it is the courage to say great, 'I'm so happy to be making this deal, but also I'm going to hire another woman to help me run this company, and I'm going to be making a film about a woman, and I'm going to hire an Academy Award-winning woman to write it, and to never accept that us being in the room is enough.

"Because us being in the room alone is exhausting.' We've all been there, we've all been the only woman in the room where you feel you have to stand up for the entire gender or the entire race, or both, and it's not okay. 

Having two in the room still makes you a minority, and you have to somehow fight each other or decide if you're going to be on the same team or choose sides. Having three in the room is how it should be at minimum." 

Preach. Kerry Washington for president? 

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